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My son's school is not a good fit for him. I want to move him but minimize the disruption. When is the best time (grade) for boys to change schools?

EDIT: "not a good fit" = not responsive to his needs The school has 25+ kinds in a class. Many of them struggle. My guys are bright, busy (active) and bored in a school that, from talking to other parents, encourages boys to change programs. This year my son's teacher suggested he be tested for ADD, not gifted (he's been tested and he doesn't quite meet the criteria for either), and further suggested that the French Immersion program was not for him (he tested as being at grade level for a uni-lingual francophone and reads well above grade level in English).

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I guess you're better off trying to fit him into the school then moving him. This depends on the definition of a bad fit though. Open another question too see if you can get some advice on having him fit into the schoo. –  Barfieldmv Mar 30 '11 at 7:03
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What country is this? It makes a significant difference, since ages are grouped differently in different countries. –  Tony Meyer Mar 30 '11 at 8:59
    
Thanks for the encouragement! I'll post another question. I'm in Canada but thought there might be a generic answer. I have heard that the less boys change schools the better because they don't go from the top of the "pecking order" to the bottom repeatedly. However, I can't cite anything supporting this. –  nGinius Mar 30 '11 at 13:39
    
@Tony It makes no difference unless you believe age is a relevant component. The concept remains the same in that separation does indeed exist whether from primary to secondary or elementary to middle. –  Aaron McIver Mar 31 '11 at 16:59
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@Tony Agreed but the country has no bearing on the outcome as the concept remains the same whether in the US or UK or anywhere else for that matter. The transition period exists... –  Aaron McIver Mar 31 '11 at 20:37
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6 Answers

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Other then the typical transition period after summer when the likelihood that multiple kids will be new; no time is ideal. The only other time would be from elementary to middle school or middle school to high school. Transition periods for children and adults are tough.

If it was up to me I would wait until this upcoming summer then make the switch. The sooner the better if the school is indeed the issue you are trying to solve.

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Speaking from my own experience, the earlier the better. I've changed schools many times (relocation caused by parent's job) and I found the moves much easier in the early years compared to later.

Kids adapt and forget easier while they're young. The older kids get, the more set in their ways they are. This is especially important to consider regarding not your own son but the classmates that are going to welcome him into their group! Older kids can tease and be much meaner than younger kids. So if your son moves school in the first few grades, the other kids are more likely to accept him.

Every move is a change, and it can always be for the better or for the worse. If you aren't relocating but just changing school, consider a fall-back option that he could be in the new school for some months and if it's really catastrophic then move him back (caution: that can also backfire).

Moving school is a big intervention. Before you decide on this, make sure it's the best solution. Sometimes it's smarter to solve the present problems than walking away from them, but that may not apply to your situation - you didn't say.

As for time of year, it doesn't matter much but summertime is best because there's no mismatch between the old and new school's teaching plan for the year. At the start of the year there may be other new kids, but families relocate all year round.

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This was my experience exactly. We moved a bunch as my Dad changed jobs. It became progressively harder the older I got. By middle school it was downright awful. My parents eventually saw this as swore-off moving. Summer was WAY better because all kids show up feeling weird on the first day of school, even if they know their classmates. As a transfer you're still on relatively similar ground (meeting teachers for the first time, etc.). Moving mid year is no good...again worse as you get older. –  Bob Mar 31 '11 at 17:00
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I'll base this on my own experiences as I changed schools several times. Two times was at the start of the school-year, one was in the middle of it. It made no difference at all.

There is disruption of course, but how much depends in my opinion mostly on your child. If your son doesn't like his current school, the disruption is minimal. He doesn't want to go to that school already, so relieving him of it is not a disruption at all. If he doesn't like the school but still has friend there it can be disruptive if he has trouble making new friends. Then you'll need to make sure he can keep seeing his old friends.

So if the school is not a good fit there is no need to wait. In many cases this will mean at the start of the next school year, sometimes it's faster.

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I had to move between elementary and middle school. Regardless of whether we had moved, I would have been going to a new school anyway. It was a far cry from a seamless transition, although I'm not sure things would have been significantly better if we hadn't have moved.

If your child is close to a transition (from elementary school to middle school or from middle school to high school), then I would definitely make the move during that transition.

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From my own experience its easier to transition either from summer, or when you are going to change schools, such as going to Middle or High School; depending on your country. I changed a few times during the year and it was disruptive, more so if you tend to be on the shy side. If making friends is easy for your son then it may not be much of a problem, if his social interaction is not that strong then minimize the issues with a beginning of the year switch. I was a bit on the shy side when I was younger so middle of the year switches were tougher for me, still you get used to it after awhile. Kids tend to be more open to new social groups and interactions during the beginning of the school year when everyone is getting back in the rhythm.

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I like this quote from Mark Twain:

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."

School isn't so much for learning as it is for proving that you've learned, so you can have a piece of paper that says you've learned what you're supposed to. Your son can learn just as much if not more at home and in nature than he can in school.

So if by "this school doesn't fit him" you mean that he's bored in class or that what he's already learned is beyond what's he's receiving at school, then this is not the answer. If you mean he hates his teacher and gets into trouble all the time, well that's another problem (namely, his attitude, which needs correcting). If you mean that he receives daily beatings from his peers, that too is another problem and not necessarily related to the school.

Life is about overcoming adversity, rather than finding the path of least resistance.

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